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Tennis • Ricky’s Pick For Wimbledon Men’s Semi • Rafa Nadal vs. Roger Federer 2019

Ricky’s pick for the Wimbledon men’s semifinals: Nadal vs. Federer


By Ricky Dimon


A month ago on clay. This time on grass.


Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will be facing each other in a second straight Grand Slam semifinal–a relative streak by this rivalry’s recent standards–when they meet again at Wimbledon on Friday.


Nadal is leading the head-to-head series 24-15, but Federer holds a 13-2 edge on surfaces other than clay. The 37-year-old has won two of their three previous grass-court encounters, all of which have come in Wimbledon finals. He prevailed 6-0, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 in 2006 and 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 in 2007 before Nadal triumphed 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 in perhaps the best match ever played in 2008.


“(I’m) excited to be back on this court against him after 11 years,” the Spaniard said. “(It) means a lot for me and probably for him, too. (I’m), excited about this match, excited about this opportunity to be again against him.”

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns to Sam Querrey of the US in their quarter final match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 10 July 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO COMMERCIAL SALES

Following those three consecutive contests from 2006 through 2008, the two all-time greats suddenly went 10 years without meeting a single time at the All-England Club. In fact, they did not square off at any slam in between the 2014 and 2017 Australian Opens or at any slam in between the 2017 Australian Open and 2019 French Open. Nadal predictably dominated 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the Roland Garros semis en route to his 18th major title and now he and Federer are going at it again just one month later.


It is Federer’s turn to have proverbial home-court advantage this time around. The 37-year-old has won eight of his 20 major titles in SW19 and he has been to the final three other times. Federer has improved his lifetime Wimbledon record to 100-12 following defeats this fortnight of Lloyd Harris (four sets), Jay Clarke, Lucas Pouille, Matteo Berrettini, and Kei Nishikori (four sets).


Nadal is certainly no slouch at the AELTC, with two titles and three runner-up performances. The world No. 2 is 5-1 in Wimbledon SFs, having lost only to Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8 last summer in a showdown that lasted two days because of the preceding Kevin Anderson vs. John Isner match followed by eventual darkness. Nadal finds himself back in the semifinals thanks to victories over Yuichi Sugita, Nick Kyrgios (four sets), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Joao Sousa, and Sam Querrey.


“It’s going to be tough,” Federer commented. “Rafa really can hurt anybody on any surface. I mean, he’s that good. He’s not just a clay-court specialist, we know…. I feel like conditions were slightly different (at the French Open),” he continued when asked if any past matches against Nadal would have any impact on Friday’s outcome. “It was so windy; it was just insane. I haven’t heard it was going to be the same, so I hope not, even though that would be funny again.”


Conditions should be pretty much perfect, actually–good news for both players but especially music to Nadal’s ears since the roof will be open, which was not the case when he fell to Djokovic in 2018.


Federer also noted that current form would have more to with the upcoming result than head-to-head history. Neither factor, however, favors the No. 2 seed. Although he is without question playing stellar tennis, Nadal has been ruthless throughout the event and has posted more convincing wins over tougher grass-court opposition.


While grass obviously levels the playing field, it may not completely tip the scales away from another Nadal victory.


Prediction: Nadal in 4


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


Editor’s Note •  This is a great perspective from Ricky. But we don’t agree. We say ROGER Federer. We don’t know how many sets or scores. But we are going with the King Of Wimbledon. Roger’s gonna need to channel every great match he played on Centre Court. He is going to need every tool in his bag. He will need this win for all the world that wears RF hats and maybe it might just happen. Either way we are hoping for a great match. (LJ)

Prediction = ROGER

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